2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 Reader Review

by Ur-Turn

Maybe it’s the horrific condition of most New England roads. Maybe it was because we just had snowiest winter in Boston since anyone’s been counting. Or maybe, just maybe, I have finally fully succumbed to my Napoleon Complex.

“The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means.”

―Napoleon Bonaparte

What started off with me buying my first liter bike has blossomed (*tear*) into the purchase of my first pickup truck: 2015 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4×4 double cab short bed with a…..dun dada dun….6-speed manual gear box. I know the Tacoma has remained relatively unchanged since 2004 – actually, it’s pretty much the same truck I’ve been lusting over since 2007. I know that it doesn’t have great fuel economy. I know that there are trucks with better technology in them. But hear me out!

Like every vehicle I’ve ever owned (with the exception of one moment of weakness that lasted for a month…don’t judge me), a manual transmission is a requirement. So when I started my quest for a pickup truck, the list quickly narrowed:

  • Colorado/Canyon twins manual only in RWD base models. I also can’t deal with this giant plastic lip. On what planet does that look good?
  • Nissan Frontier: Is there an explanation needed? It’s a big plastic baby rattle
  • Anything full sized No manual option unless I’m a parts runner (which I’m not…)
  • Other requirements included:

    • Double cab
    • V6 or greater
    • 4×4
    • Tow Package
    • Audio controls on the steering wheel (a taller order than I had anticipated)

    Anticipated uses include pulling my trailer, hauling motorcycles in the back for work and play, home improvement projects, and, God willing, some off-roading. While I’ve driven many trucks, I’ve only ever owned compact sports cars (Z4, GS-R, SI, 328i, 330ci, etc), so the joy of the driving experience is important to me.

    While I ran through the options – both foreign and domestic – I kept coming back to my long time crush: Toyota Tacoma. 70 percent residual after 36 months, tons of aftermarket parts and accessories available, it checked all of my boxes, and it’s cute! (Is that a turn off? Ah well.) I had to order the truck because, as my boyfriend points out, “there are 15,000 Tacomas on the ground at dealerships and none of them are what you want!” After a couple of months, and some parts shopping, she was finally home!

    Yes, that is the TRD exhaust and TRD Trail Team wheels in the back of the truck that I ordered before we ever even met.

    40 miles and less than 24 hours later she looked like this:

    In the 500 miles that I’ve had her, I’ve picked up sod, pulled a trailer and transported three motorcycles. The truck came with four D-rings, four cleats and a trailer hitch, making all of this a breeze.

    How does she compare to other trucks? I’ve clocked a decent amount of miles on a variety of trucks (with and without trailers), which should qualify me to make these comparisons: Nissan Frontier, Dodge Ram 1500, F-150 extended cab V6 non-Ecoboost, V6 Silverado regular cab, Z71 Silverado, F-350 stake body, and that one time I was allowed to drive a manual transmission Sterling box truck.

    Let’s start with the elephant in the room, the transmission. Why a manual? Maybe I’m a control freak, but I rarely drive an automatic without saying at some point “why did we shift there?” Especially in the snow, a manual gives you more control (ex: downshifting rather than braking). I also find that it keeps me more alert and, finally, it’s way more fun. Where the transmission becomes especially significant is in my experience with other V6 trucks. I’m just going to call them gear hunters, because that is all they do. Without a trailer, uphill, downhill, cruise on or off, they never seem to find the right gear. I cursed the F-150’s gear indicator for letting me know it was in fourth the majority of the time rather than sixth. It’s like the transmissions and engines are mismatched. Maybe they are. On the same stretch of highway, I was able to take the Tacoma and two bikes up and downhill for an hour in sixth gear. I was always in the power, and never once had to downshift to accelerate or maintain speed.

    The Tacoma is very smooth, especially compared to a Frontier. It handles well and is much easier to maneuver in parking lot situations than a full-sized truck. The steering wheel doesn’t require heavy inputs, but also doesn’t feel like it’s going to fly away from you. It is also fairly thick, making it quite comfortable. The 2014 F-150 drives like absolute butter, but has this annoying residual vibration every time you close the door or hit a bump. Rams tend to ride like a boat and fling me around the cabin going over bumps. The Z71 Silverado I had the pleasure of taking home a few nights this winter was a dream: tons of power, smooth, comfortable, and looked great. Biggest complaint was lack of audio controls on the steering wheel.

    I had to have a double cab for getting stuff in and out of the backseat. I hate having to open one door in order to open another. There is also plenty of storage under and behind the seats of the Tacoma. I’ve been keeping all of my towing and tie down accessories in there and out of the way. The Tacoma also came with a cargo bed power outlet, which I look forward to trying out eventually. The manual option gives you a third cup holder, which has been fairly useless so far because the throws on the shifter are sooooo long and will knock over any bottle in it. I have the Toyota short throw “quick shifter” for it and I’m hopeful it will both improve the driving experience and create enough space for that third cup holder. The e-brake is a “pull and twist” style which has grown on me and seems to be pretty secure on inclines. Fold down headrests in the back are a lifesaver for reversing since I don’t quite trust the backup camera yet.

    My final note about this truck is there’s a wealth of information available, as well as aftermarket parts and accessories. You can get analysis paralysis reading through all of the modifications and upgrades. I have already emotionally spent thousands more on a lift kit, bed extender, sliders, skids, and a hidden winch mount (because everyone needs a hidden winch, right?). I already have a tailgate reinforcement on order, as well as some other motorcycle hauling accessories. 31-inch tires should have definitely come on this truck from the factory. Same with the TRD exhaust; quiet at idle, but has a clean and deep note under acceleration. Everyone keeps telling me I need the TRD supercharger (you know who you are), but I find the truck to have more than enough power for my needs.

    From a girl who has only owned “sporty” cars, this is the most excited I have been about a vehicle since my BMW days.

    This reader review was written by Rebecca Turrell.


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    7 of 46 comments
    • DeadWeight DeadWeight on Jun 26, 2015

      I'm not a "truck person," but I would buy a Tundra TRD 4x4 over anything else if I was getting a truck. It's right sized. It's durable/reliable (motor & transmission, especially). It has awesome resale value. It isn't all blinged out and marshmallowed to the point of ridiculousness like so many domestic trucks. It has the right combination of utility, versatility & "truckness," while still not being too crude or uncomfortable. And, IMO, it wears the slightly murdered-out look as above better (less brashly) than most trucks.

      • See 3 previous
      • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Jun 26, 2015

        gtemnykh - too stiff a frame can be a problem in itself. Since the author has a sport bike I'll use bikes as an example. When sport bikes and even motocross bikes went to perimeter frames they found ride and handling in many cases got worse requiring them to rework suspension and steering geometry. They even redesigned the frames for "controlled" flex. I do think that one reason truck companies have gone to stiffer frames is because they have made the bodies lighter and weaker. Try securing a load with ratcheting tie downs by hooking on to the box rail lip. You will bend up the lip. Bed pockets have also become so flimsy that accessory companies recommend that you do not use them as anchor points. There is a reason why truck companies now have anchor points low down in the box.

    • Scout_Number_4 Scout_Number_4 on Jun 27, 2015

      I'd be curious to know: 1) What you paid for the truck as-delivered 2) What you paid for all the +40hrs accessories including install.

      • Rebecca Rebecca on Jun 27, 2015

        A lady doesn't kiss and tell...But I'd be surprised if I had more than 5 hours into all of the installation. Most of the parts I've been able to put on myself, or have someone do in a short amount of time. I'm still coming in under the cost of a TRD Pro

    • Calrson Fan Jeff - Agree with what you said. I think currently an EV pick-up could work in a commercial/fleet application. As someone on this site stated, w/current tech. battery vehicles just do not scale well. EBFlex - No one wanted to hate the Cyber Truck more than me but I can't ignore all the new technology and innovative thinking that went into it. There is a lot I like about it. GM, Ford & Ram should incorporate some it's design cues into their ICE trucks.
    • Michael S6 Very confusing if the move is permanent or temporary.
    • Jrhurren Worked in Detroit 18 years, live 20 minutes away. Ren Cen is a gem, but a very terrible design inside. I’m surprised GM stuck it out as long as they did there.
    • Carson D I thought that this was going to be a comparison of BFGoodrich's different truck tires.
    • Tassos Jong-iL North Korea is saving pokemon cards and amibos to buy GM in 10 years, we hope.